Response to Bharat Bandh fizzles as day progresses in Pune, western Maharashtra
The Bharat Bandh called by the Bahujan Kranti Morcha (BKM) and some Muslim outfits on Wednesday to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) evoked a mixed response in Pune and other parts of western Maharashtra with shops, commercial establishments, education institutions and public transport operating smoothly during the later half of the day.
In Kondhwa, members of BKM took out a morcha and forced the shops to down their shutters. However, the police intervened and detained some of the protesters. According to officials, 315 protesters were detained for holding rallies in areas such as Sarasbaug, Swargate, near Golibar Maidan, Chandannagar, and Yerawada.
A senior police official said that most of the protesters were detained as they defied prohibitory orders. Joint commissioner of police Ravindra Shisve, said, “The police have detained 315 protesters for violating Section 68 of Mumbai Police Act (violating police orders). Most of the protesters were detained from Sarasbaug area.”
Overall, the bandh received a tepid response in the city where public transport remained unaffected. Schools and colleges also remained open.
In areas such as Pune Camp, Kondhwa and Bhavani peth, some shops and commercial establishments downed their shutters for some time in the morning though traders opened their establishments after the protesters left the area. However, Zahid, a member of the action committee for the bandh, said, “The bandh was successful and people voluntarily responded to the call as they too are opposed to CAA and NRC.”
One of the detainees, Shatayu Bhagale, said that they were taken into custody by the police while they were distributing roses to shopkeepers in Sarasbaug. “We were just asking them to participate in the bandh when the police detained us,” he said.
Meanwhile, some public buses were sent back to the depots in Hadapsar by protesters who had gathered on a road, said Anant Waghmare, traffic head, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML). The services resumed immediately after the police reached the spot, he said.
In Solapur and other parts of western Maharashtra, the bandh received a lukewarm response with shops remaining shut only in a few areas of the city.
At Walsang in Solapur district, a group of protesters tried to disrupt a weekly vegetable market, but relented after local traders and police informed them that vegetables arrive for sale from far-off places and it would hurt businesses.
In Miraj (Sangli district in western Maharashtra), an autorickshaw was damaged after its driver refused to take part in the bandh. “We have detained two persons for damaging the windshield of the autorickshaw,’ a local police officer said. Shops in some areas remained closed in the town.
Multiple organisations, including Bahujan Kranti Morcha, called for a Bharat Bandh to protest against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
(With agency inputs)